Saturday, 19 April 2014
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 1 Corinthians 2:15
Again as before, care must be exercised in considering this verse. It is not an absolute that everyone who has called on Christ has the ability to judge all things rightly. Not every “every” in the Bible is an absolute and not all “alls” in the Bible are either. They are often general statements which are applied to biblical truths. This is perfectly evident by reading commentaries on any given verse, including this one. The amount of disagreement on what is meant by Paul reflects the certainty that the Holy Spirit doesn’t externally inject us with the knowledge necessary to make right spiritual judgments.
What the Holy Spirit does do is give us the ability, for the first time in our lives, to look into the wisdom of God from a spiritual perspective. What once was nonsense and foolishness now is understandable in a different way. We may not have, and no one certainly possesses, all the knowledge that is presented in the Bible, but we do have the spiritual ability to learn it in the way in which God intended. Unfortunately, there are many hindrances to right spiritual discernment. Some are:
1) Pride. We may have learned something in our biblical schooling and despite being presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we remain close-minded to the truth lest we appear to look foolish.
2) Lack of proper study. The more one reads the Bible and studies it, the more it weaves into a unified whole in our minds. We begin to perceive macro and micro structures which are contained throughout its pages. But this is hard, time-consuming, and often tiring work.
3) Personal bias. We may have a presupposition about a matter (dispensationalism vs. preterism, for example) and we may find it impossible to overcome the mental barrier because of how we perceive God’s working in the world.
4) Source of authority bias. We may accept a source of authority concerning our understanding of the Bible which then affects our entire view of how to approach its truths. Roman Catholicism claims that the papacy is the authority on Bible interpretation. If we accept that, then we will follow in lock-step with whatever they say. This is true with others as well, including cults.
For these and other reasons, our ability to spiritually judge all things may be skewed from what God intends for us to see. Despite this, Paul continues with the thought that one who is able to view the Bible from its proper spiritual perspective, that person “is rightly judged by no one.” The one who has accepted Christ and is viewing Scripture from that perspective is, at least in the overall sense, coming at it from the proper perspective. If a non-believer comes along and attempts to refute their interpretation of the Bible which is presented from this spiritual perspective, they will obviously be incorrect in their judgment of them.
How can someone who isn’t in Christ judge someone who is in Christ concerning their knowledge of the source of their faith (meaning the words of the Bible given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) which they themselves don’t accept? It would make no sense. It would be like an artist arguing with a mathematician about calculations in numbers because the numbers were the wrong color. It would make no sense because it is a category mistake. The color of a number (if written) is irrelevant to the content of the calculation because the substance of what numbers represent has nothing to do with color.
The same is true with the Bible. The substance of the Bible is spiritual in nature. To argue concerning the Bible apart from its spiritual message is a category mistake and therefore, the non-spiritual person cannot judge the spiritual interpretation of God’s word.
Life application: Although there are differing views on the meaning and intent of scriptural verses and passages, ultimately, they must be viewed from the spiritual perspective intended by God. Only a person viewing them from such a perspective will be able to rightly deduce the true meaning of the passage. But competence, study, and prayer are needed. We cannot assume we have pure knowledge of Scripture without much effort and the accompaniment of the Spirit’s illumination.
Heavenly Father, a warm shower revives my weary body after a day of hard work. A bite of food gives me strength to re-engage my duties. A friendly smile or a word of encouragement enlivens me and gives me stamina to meet the foes of the world. All of these are a part of Your creation, given as gifts of Your love. If these things are such a help, how much more heartening is the Source of them… how much more wonderful is Your fellowship than all other things. How my soul longs for You, the Living God. Amen.